The 2022 NFL season is starting to take shape as the league is just past the quarter mark. The Buffalo Bills and Kansas City Chiefs are the top teams in the AFC East, while the Philadelphia Eagles have established themselves as a major contender in the NFC.
The Indianapolis Colts and Denver Broncos, two of the most disappointing and lowest scoring teams in the NFL, get Week 5 underway on Thursday night. The Colts (1-2-1) are coming off a 24-17 loss to the Tennessee Titans on Sunday despite Matt Ryan throwing for 356 yards and a pair of scores. Meanwhile, the Broncos (2-2) saw their two-game winning streak conclude with a 32-23 setback to the Las Vegas Raiders, as Denver managed just 299 yards of offense.
Kickoff is slated for 8:15 p.m. (ET) at Empower Field at Mile High. The Broncos are favored by 3.5 points, while over/under is 43.0 points. Denver is listed at -180 on the money line, and Indianapolis is +158.
Parlay: Denver Broncos – 3.5 Points & Under 43 Points
I like a parlay play here with Denver winning the game by and the point total going under 43.5 points. The Broncos are 2-0 at home with an average scoring margin of +4.0. The Broncos have shown the ability to run the ball, though they won’t have starter Javonte Williams (Knee).
However, Melvin Gordon is a former starter capable of a big game though he needs to protect the ball better. More importantly, I like the Broncos’ defense better than the Colts in this matchup, as the unit was exceptional thru the first three weeks of the season. Penalties are a concern for Denver.
Meanwhile, Indianapolis is 0-1-1 on the road, having been outscored by 24 points as they only average 10 points away from their home confines. Indianapolis may not have Jonathan Taylor (ankle), which will definitely hurt a Colts team that has struggled to get much going on the offensive side.
Nyheim Hines will get the bulk of the workload if Taylor cannot go, and he is more of a pass-catching back than a featured runner. Therefore, making the Colts more one-dimension and relying on the right arm of Matt Ryan. And that hasn’t worked out well for the Colts thus far, as the 37-year-old has tossed just five touchdowns while throwing five picks.
Denver has the fifth-best pass defense in the league, and Ryan really struggled against Jacksonville in his lone game outdoors this season, completing just 53.33% of his passes to go along with three interceptions. Additionally, Ryan is just three games above .500 (43-40) when playing outdoors compared to being 17 games over .500 for his career.
I also really like the under. Both teams play solid defense, and neither team is an offensive juggernaut. Plus, Russell Wilson has not played great for the Broncos either, and he is dealing with a shoulder injury.
As I said above, I like the Broncos’ D better as the Colts’ defense doesn’t force turnovers, and they will be without their top playmaker on that side in linebacker Shaquille Leonard. Denver and Indianapolis rank in the NFL top 10 in total defense and NFL scoring percentage.
Both offenses struggled to protect the NFL quarterback and on third down as well as in the red zone. Indianapolis has allowed 15 sacks, and while the Colts have been slightly better than average in converting 3rd downs into first downs (39.6%), they have only totaled six NFL touchdowns in 13 trips into the red zone. Defensively, the Colts have allowed NFL opponents to convert 36.5% of their third downs and 80% of their red zone opportunities.
Denver has allowed 12 sacks and converted just 35.1% of their third downs. The Broncos also have just crossed the goal line three times in 10 trips into the red zone. Defensively, they are eighth in the league in third down conversion and first in the red zone touchdown rate (33.3%).
Moreover, the home team has won three straight Thursday night football games. All four of the Colts’ 2022 games have finished under the point total, as have three of the Broncos’ games this season. The point total has dropped a half-point since the morning line opened.
Best Bet: Broncos -3.5 (+100)
Best Bet: Under 43 Points (-110)
2-leg parlay: +281
Matt Ryan Under 232.5 Passing Yards (-115)
Ryan is coming off his best performance of the season against Tennessee and has thrown over 350 yards twice. However, “Matty Ice” has not faced a pass defense or pass rush like the Broncos. Ryan has been sacked at least twice in every game and has had trouble not only with interceptions but holding onto the ball overall as he has fumbled nine times, losing three of them.
Defensively, the Broncos have recorded at least two sacks in every game and rank in the top 10 in the league with 11 sacks. Denver likes to blitz, and they average three hurries along with three NFL quarterback knockdowns. Plus, the Broncos’ corners and safeties have played exceptionally well, with only cornerback Kwaun Williams struggling.
Matt Ryan Over 2.5 Rushing Yards (-115)
This prop seems like a lock of the night. While not the swiftest of foot, Ryan has averaged at least three rushing yards a game for his career. He has surpassed the prop mark twice this season already.
Expect Ryan to run for his life with the Broncos’ defensive philosophy and ability to generate pressure. The Broncos are giving up the 14th most rushing yards to opposing NFL quarterbacks at 16 yards per game – David Carr recorded 40 of those 65 total rushing yards last week and a little over four yards per carry. Ryan has totaled at least three yards on the ground in each of his four career games against Denver.
Other Best Bets
Ashton Dulin Over 13.5 Receiving Yards (-115)
Paris Campbell Over 21.5 Receiving Yards (-120)
Brandon McManus Over 1.5 Field Goals (-115)
Broncos First Half Moneyline (-165)
Melvin Gordon Over 51.5 Rushing Yards (-110)
Cortland Sutton Over 4.5 Receptions
Mo-Allie Cox Over 18.5 Receiving Yards (-110)